In the middle of the 1970’s, I moved to a rundown terraced house in Harrogate with my children to go back to college and start a new life as a single parent student. And what a life it has turned out to be. Yet, despite my personal achievements, I get up this morning to see a society experiencing some extremely difficult times. Indeed, just the difficult times that I spent many long hours discussing with friends when I first got involved in community activity and the environmental movement all those years ago. Then they were academic arguments, now, unfortunately, they are all too real.
Many of them were encapsulated in my final year’s thesis, dated December 1978, which was, somewhat pretentiously, entitled, “World in the Balance, The Rational Pursuit of Irrationality”. Typed on an old typewriter that I bought for the purpose, this morning I dug it out of an old suitcase and reread it. What struck me was, what I now recognise and without being too arrogant, the quality of the writing, even then. What also struck me is that there is little that I wrote about then that I would disagree with now, nearly 40 years later.
Much of my argument was about the building of a sustainable, stable society; things that would later form the basis of my first published book, “The Real Big Society”. At which point, I put the thesis back in the suitcase on the basis that I need to maintain my optimism and that, despite the evidence we now have, we appear to be as far away from that goal as we were then.
At which other point, I prepare for my new project with secondary school students who have their lives in front of them; that, and my family, sustain me.